We’ve had a lovely summer here, with long and beautiful days and evenings ideal to read under the shade of a tree while enjoying a little treat, thus pairing books with chocolate sprang to life from the pages of many novels.
I’ve heard of pairing books with wine, so why not with chocolate? Books affect each reader in a different way; two people will describe the same chocolate in various ways. We understand and absorb a book through the perspective of our past experiences. We taste chocolate not only with our taste buds, but though all five senses: smell, sight, taste, touch, even by hearing.
‘We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”Anaïs Nin
Take a break with me. Discover new reads or new flavors of chocolate. And if you don’t have any nearby, don’t worry. At the end of this blog post there is a 1 minute, tried and tested, no-egg microwave brownie recipe 🙂 Our favorite!
In no particular order I paired:
A Convenant of Spies – Daniel Kemp
Unexpectedly unbreakable, but giving in if you know how to take it. Definitely not what it reveals to the eye. Gentle browns of a hard milk chocolate with extra cocoa, spicy with a hint of spirits that reveals itself on the back of the tongue.
Much like Daniel Kemp’s A Covenant Of Spies deals with British Intelligence investigating Russian operative. But look beyond the cover, to a complex tale featuring a net of lies and political cover-ups that will make you doubt tomorrow’s news headlines. An entertaining story of 21st century spies and tales of the Cold War sprinkled with clues till the end, it reminded me of Bridge of Spies.
Book four in the ‘Lies and Consequences’ series, espionage, mystery thriller and crime. Daniel Kemp blogs here.
Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words by Sally Cronin
Mersi is an indulgent assortment of fine milk chocolate, nutty pralines, or bitter-sweet dark bites to spoil your taste buds with a new surprise in each tablet. Just like life itself.
I chose to pair Cronin’s Life’s Rich Tapestry with a selection of Merci chocolates because her book offers an indulgent collection of short stories, micro fiction and poetry that match so many of life’s moments. Her book made me smile and dream, it brought chuckles and it even made my eyes wet. Is a book you want to read on, as the author is a gifted writer, each chapter in her book a temptation, and so are the illustrations.
An appreciated work of literary fiction. Sally blogs here.
Vanished by Mark Bierman
Dark, strong, and intense, chocolate at its finest and not for the soft-hearted, yet with a subtle aroma of raspberries and a salty aftertaste that only accentuates the quality of its cocoa. This is a no-mess, straight forward taste that lingers long after you ate it. Memorable.
Bierman’s novel Vanished reminded me of James Clavell’s King Rat. Much like Clavell, Bierman reels in the reader from the first chapter. The book blends the reality of everyday life in Haiti with the race of finding a missing child believed to be abducted by slave traders. Bierman will not allow you to shield your eyes from the reality of human trafficking. What he does wonderfully and makes this book worth a read is getting the reader to root for the two main characters, as well as for those oppressed. You will be drawn into their lives and hold thumbs, prying for a happy ending.
Modern fiction at its best, shining a spotlight on the tragedy of child trafficking. A book with a powerful and important message. Mark Bierman blogs here.
Alfonso and the Monster (A Royal Tortoise Tale) by Susan Moffat
Imagine a cup of hot chocolate topped with tiny marshmallows. Soft and creamy, a joy to look at and a bliss in every sip. Marshmallows melting on the tongue, bringing back the cherished memory of camping fires and the tingling of Christmas.
I read Susan’s previous two books featuring adorable Alfonso, a snail prince, and became attached to this sweet little guy. This time he’s in the Land of Garden (how adorable this sounds!) and he tries his best at fighting what he imagines to be a monster, and does so in a very entertaining way. My favorite part must have been Alfonso’s facial expressions, Susan is a gifted artist.
When my kids were young I always chose gentle books for bedtime and they loved stories about animals who could talk. I would have chosen this one for sure ad they would have loved it. Susan blogs here.
The Memories We Bury by H. A. Leuschel
Hand made chocolate confectionery is a lush decadence I rarely I indulge in. With an inviting, sweet, outer shell dripping with a bitter espresso syrup, it surprises by offering a third flavor once you sink your teeth in. A trio of sinful almond, sweet milk chocolate, and dark coffee syrup – which one will dominate?
I had to pair this chocolate with Leuschel’s latest release, The Memories We Bury. Alternating between the POVs of its two main characters, The Memories We Bury weaves an intricate story of trust and betrayal, of a past we cannot run away from, a story that balances on the thin line bordering the healthy from the ill mind. While a third character watches from the shadows. Which is friend and which is foe?
Highly recommend if you love books that delve into human psychology. Discover Helene here.
Academic Curveball: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 1) by James J. Cudney
When I need comfort food or a pick-me-up desert, there is nothing like an old-fashioned chocolate fudge with its magical blend of aromas and textures. Slightly crunchy and chewy, salty, dark cocoa that turns into spice as it melts into a creamy dream. Pure indulgence.
So are classical cozy mysteries, like Cudney’s Academic Curveball, Braxton Campus Mysteries #1. This book is more than a mystery, it has a complex plot that reminded me of Christie’s writing (one of my all-time favorite authors), and plenty of intrigue too. You will discover a main character (a writer!) well penned, and on a mission amid old friends and new encounters, all in the world of academia. It is a book you will not want to put down till it’s end, a veritable a-ha moment.
Well worth it, from an author you will want to remember. Listed as teen and young adult detectives and humorous fiction. James Cudney blogs here.
Dead Dry Heart by Toni Pike
I always wanted to compare chocolates that are not displayed in an assortment box. Mahogany, autumn brown, creamy white, all shades feasting the eye. To have the luxury of listening to the sound each slab makes as I snap a piece. Piling the broken chocolate shards with their various bits of nuts exposed. The anticipation of the first crispy bite, melting in various aromas, an explosion of cool, acidic cocoa, milky vanilla, and earthly nuts.
Crime noir and psychological thrillers are very much like this. Similar, yet different reads.
Pike’s Dead Dry Heart is a crispy autumn brown fueled by the heat of an unforgiving Australian sun. When the past you want to forget comes back to haunt you at a time when, finally, all works out in your life, what is there to do? Stay on the side of the law or do anything to save your present life, the one you worked so hard towards? And, if someone helped you once, how much do you owe them? Decisions I surely don’t want to ever be faced with.
A book with unexpected turns that will keep you reading past your bedtime, a main character you will develop mixed feelings towards, and even a few four-legged furry friends 🙂 Toni Pike blogs here.
Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul by D. L. Finn
The creamy, delicate flavor, never the same, of a box of chocolate assortments is poetry on the tongue. Quality milk chocolate crisp on the bite, only to release rivulets of various experiences, sweet, then salty, fruity, then buttery, spicy or creamy.
They compliment perfectly the harmony of Finn’s poetry selection. I don’t know about you, but I always find a moment for poetry in a day. Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul meets you with poems abut the beauty of nature, but also about emotions and life’s encounters. Either section you choose, Finn’s poetry will sooth raw emotions, but raise questions as well, for isn’t this one of the reasons we return to poems? By reading of another human being’s experiences we can overcome our own sad moments. By allowing a poet to uplift us, we relive a joyful experience, perhaps long forgotten.
This is the magic of poetry and Finn is a master painter with her well chosen words. Highly recommended for your bedside table. Denise Finn blogs here.
The Orphans’ Plight: An African Adventure (Fauna Park Tales) by Maretha Botha
What can be sweeter than donuts glazed with chocolate? Crunchy when you bite, your teeth sinking in fluffy, heavenly soft doughnut. Pinks, stripes, stars, playful rings, bouncy shapes like a birthday jumping castle. No one can resist a doughnut!
Maretha Botha’s The Orphans’ Plight: An African Adventure is a wonderful addition to her Fauna Park Tales. Told through the eyes oh Hope the owl, it shows how dangerous life can be even in rural Africa. I liked the fact that animals could speak and we, as readers, could understand them. The illustrations are works of art on their own, created with such insight by the author herself. They compliment the story and are abundant in details. And, YAY, there is a dog too, Flame, and he has unusual sniffing abilities 🙂
Great read for smaller grades, lots to look at and plenty to learn, do allow your child to give it a try. Maretha blogs here.
1 minute Microwave, Egg-less Brownie – Tried and tested (and finished in under 1 minute)
Yes, I hear you, next time I’ll pair books with coffee 🙂
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